A month-long pop-up in October will include home grown superveg and their signature ‘Madrasty’

There’s a definite trend emerging for itinerant restaurant talent popping up in various venues for a short-term residency, and it certainly keeps things interesting for diners. 

Young chef and front of house teams, flush from experience working in top restaurants, are keen to show off what they’ve learnt, while venues that have vacant kitchens are keen to refresh their offering. 

A collaboration with the Higher Ground team felt like the perfect way to relaunch the space

One of the partnerships to watch at the moment is the team behind the highly acclaimed Higher Ground who will be taking over the restaurant at Native’s Ducie Street Warehouse throughout October with a series of pop-up dinners each weekend. 

Having enjoyed a successful residency at Kampus, Capital & Centric’s canal side kitchen on stilts (reviewed here), Higher Ground is a joint venture between chef Joseph Otway (previously of Where the Light Gets In) and Richard Cossins (formerly of Blue Hill at Stone Barns in Pocantico Hills, New York.) The team did a great job of transforming their business plan over lockdown by offering cook at home boxes and grocery/natural wine deliveries, and now they’re ready to continue their evolution and development within the Manchester food scene.

2020 09 21 Higher Ground Joseph Otway
Higher Ground's Chef Joseph Otway in the Ducie Street Warehouse kitchens

"We couldn’t be more excited to bring our style of cooking and approach to service to DSW,” said Joseph. “DSW have provided us with an ideal platform to work from and we once again look forward to connecting with the many producers and farmers in the local area."

On Fridays and Saturdays in October, the Higher Ground pop-up will serve a five-course sharing menu, championing seasonal produce from the North West. We went along to a preview lunch last week to find out a bit more.

Seasonal ingredients are the stars of the show here and Chef Otway is keen to do what he can to let them shine. The first course aims to elevate the humble vegetable. Strips of blanched leek (grown by ‘Terry in Ormskirk’ Richard tells us) tumble over each other like strips of glossy green pappardelle, bathed in a light oyster emulsion, peppered with the odd perilla leaf (a Korean cousin of mint.) 

2020 09 21 Higher Ground Leeks
Leeks with oyster and perilla
2020 09 21 Higher Ground Beetroot
Dennis' beetroot, salted blueberry, marjoram and goat curd

A beautiful plate of thinly sliced beetroot (grown by a mysterious agriculture ninja called Dennis, explained Richard), both blanched and raw to create a depth of texture, hides a silky sharp goat curd below. All dressed with a salted blueberry compote made from last summer’s crop.

Course two continues the celebration of veg with roasted rainbow carrots with a spicy sauce made from sea buckthorn (a bright orange sour berry no Michelin menu is complete without at this time of year.)  Finely ground crispy rye breadcrumbs add a bit of crunch here and there – chef Otway clearly considers the eating experience in every dish.

This is served alongside a dish of fresh tomatoes, grown locally in Platt Field Market Garden, dressed with Curing Rebels ‘Do-Ya’, a British-made take on the Calabrian spicy spreadable salami, using high welfare pigs, by artisan charcuterie enthusiasts based near Brighton.

2020 09 21 Higher Ground Rainbow Carrots
Rainbow carrots, sea buckthorn hot sauce, marigold and rye
2020 09 21 Higher Ground Tomatoes
Platt Field Market Garden tomatoes dressed with Curing Rebels Do-Ya?

The middle course is chicken thigh served on a smooth sweetcorn puree with charred clusters of Foskett’s corn, all draped in ribbons of Swiss chard. With this comes a bowl of wrinkled Red King Edward potatoes and (our favourite) a dish of 'Kitchen Farming Project brassica’ leaves smothered in an autumnal sauce made from chestnut mushrooms. The brassicas were some of the first seeds to be sown at Platt Fields Market Garden, which is where Higher Ground grow all of the crops for the menu as part of their contribution to the Kitchen Farming Project

2020 09 21 Higher Ground Chicken
Chicken thigh, Foskett's sweetcorn and Swiss chard
2020 09 21 Higher Ground Brassicas
Kitchen Farming Project brassicas and chestnut mushroom

Then what is probably Higher Ground’s signature dish – the oxtail ‘madrasty’. Slow braised shredded beef encased in a buttery pastry purse, garnished with fennel seeds and served on an intensely spiced madras gravy that’ll get your lips tingling. 

Pudding is a much lighter affair of pureed apple with almond and toasted marshmallow-like meringue. Richard paired this with the belting 2014 Vom Berg Riesling Spätlese a gorgeous biodynamic sweetly viscous wine - which was my favourite of all the natural wines we tried.

The sharing menu is £45 per guest, and if you’d like to try the recommended wines with each dish, there’s an optional wine pairing for £25. Wines by the glass, cans of Manchester brewed beer and wines by the bottle will also be available.

2020 09 21 Higher Ground Madras Pasty
Oxtail Madrasty

If you want to make a night of it, Ducie Street is home to Native’s 166 beautifully-designed apartments on the upper floors, offering a variety of living spaces from studios and one beds to two-bedroom penthouses complete with garden terraces. The ground floor at Ducie Street Warehouse has fast become a favourite hang-out for many, offering a co-working space in the Lounge during the day, as well as a breakfast and lunch menu during the week and a brunch menu at weekends.

2020 09 21 Higher Ground Apple Dessert
Burnt English apple, almond, toasted meringue
2020 09 21 Higher Ground Dsw Service
Bookings are now open if you'd like to experience the Higher Ground pop up at Ducie Street Warehouse in October

The restaurant originally opened in partnership with London’s Bistroteque who parted ways with the group last year.  

Jacqui Griffiths, General Manager at Native Manchester and Ducie Street Warehouse, said: “Native have been exploring different options for the restaurant at Ducie Street and a collaboration with the Higher Ground team felt like the perfect way to relaunch the space. We are passionate about working with local operators, which is also a key focus for Joseph and Richard and we’re delighted to be able to offer them a platform to continue their journey. Over the last few months we’ve seen the ground floor come to life again, creating a safe and vibrant space, and this collaboration will help to create even further buzz and excitement.”

There will be 40 tickets available for each dinner, held over weekends in October. In accordance of the new 10pm dining curfew, Higher Ground have changed the second sitting at Ducie Street Warehouse to 8pm.The maximum table size is six guests, with pre-payment for the food menu required when booking. To book your table, click here 

Follow @highergroundmcr on instagram and @DucieStMCR on Twitter

*Header image credit - Andy Hatton